Monday, August 17, 2015

Monday Musings: Social media, screaming into the void, and stereotyping grandmas.

I'm sure many of you have heard about what happened with Katie M. Stout, author of Hello, I Love You over Twitter last week (wow I started writing this a long time ago!).   I feel like almost all bookish drama goes over my head because I so rarely get on Twitter, but that consequently every time I get on Twitter I just see this huge spiral of negativity as people attack other people, and then defenders of said victims pile on top of the attackers and it just snow balls from there.  And it's not only book drama - it's just easier for me to ignore the rest because A. I'm not in any way involved in said life drama and B. It's usually not about someone who I care about or know.  (Not that it makes it any better in any way - it's just easier to emotionally remove myself from the situation).  I get really, really stressed out when it comes to conflict.  If I've got a problem with someone I'm generally pretty direct.  I like to resolve things quickly because conflict stresses. me. out.  Twitter is basically a breeding ground for misunderstandings - it's easy for people  to get upset when things are taken out of context, and at 140 characters, it's like EVERYTHING is out of context.  (Not that people aren't straight up offensive on Twitter - they totally are, but I feel like the limit often makes both statements and reactions seem more extreme than they were intended to be and it just spirals from there).

On top of all of the dog piling, it often feels like there are millions of people all talking at the same time and they keep trying to be louder than everyone else and sometimes they're yelling to you or the universal you or they're having a semi-private conversation but talking over every one in doing so and it's just so overwhelming.

 I want to be sure that I add that this has nothing to do with any users or Twitter users in general, it's just that I think I'm so ill-used to dealing with so many people talking at one time that I'm at a loss at how to process it.  Twitter is, well, loud.  And with so many people talking at one time, it's not only overwhelming to try and follow what everyone is saying, it's completely intimidating to try and break into.  I'm not very good with large crowds of people, and that doesn't change when it's a virtual environment.  I love that people get to interact with all sorts of people they wouldn't ordinarily be able to talk to, but it's intimidating to talk to people I don't know and just sort of...interrupt a conversation. (I'm getting better about this. I think?) And it's scary when you see how quickly conversations can turn into an internet mob, and it makes me feel constantly on guard in a place that seems geared towards casual conversation, which gives a weird feel to the whole thing.  It also feels like anytime you try and break through the mass of people you're just bulldozed down by millions more people.  This feeling on the fringe also brings out a side of me I thankfully rarely see. It's like I revert to all the awkwardness and insecurity I had when I was in middle school. And frankly, it's painful to behold.  Any time I'm on Twitter, I inevitably reach a point where I'm like "Why isn't anyone responding to me? They think I'm dumb don't they?! They're right I AM dumb.  I'M SO UNCOOL."

Anytime I have to remind myself "Chill Elizabeth, you're not in middle school anymore you are a GROWN ASS WOMAN", is at least one time too many.

That being said, I've had some fantastic experiences with Twitter too.   I'm taking part in OTSP Secret Sister, which is the whole reason I've been on Twitter so much in the past couple weeks at all.  If you guys don't know what it is, it's basically like a 6 month long secret santa project, but with an emphasis on positivity and letter writing and good vibes, and is basically really fun. Not going to lie, at least 20% of my brain has been on this project for the past couple weeks, seeing all the bonding that's been going on between bloggers, and of course planning what to give my secret sister (and what clues to drop her in my letters).  I'm applauding my self restraint in having only written one letter so far - I want to at least wait until she's gotten the letter before I write another haha!  (She isn't at the address she gave yet, so I've been waiting on TENTERHOOKS.)  It's been so much fun so far, and I definitely recommend giving it a go for the next round!  And regardless, the ladies from On The Same Page are wonderful and definitely worth knowing, regardless of your interest in OTSP Secret Sister!

I also took part in #LLRGirlsNight hosted by the girls at Live, Love, Read and that was definitely a lot of fun too!  It's basically like an online movie night - you get to watch a movie and chat about it on twitter while you watch! It's all the plus sides of not having to leave your house to watch a movie and getting to talk about said movie without pissing off your co-watchers haha.  Last month our pick was Sweet Home Alabama, a classic chick flick for those of us born in the 90s and I met loads of new awesome people (and got to talk swoons and sassy Southern girls, always a bonus).  It's going to be a monthly thing, and this month's movie night is going to be this Friday actually!  Voting is still ongoing for a Disney movie pick - you can vote and see all the details here. Even better? You can sign up for e-mail reminders (I think they come out day of or day before) for those of you who are forgetful like me! (I missed the first one because I totally forgot so this is perfect haha!)  In any case it's a lot of fun and went a long way into making me feel more comfortable on Twitter, which despite my what must be close to a year on the site now is only something I've been feeling comfortable with in the past month or so.

And of course a shout out to LaLa who tweets something positive my way almost every Friday (and for the better part of the past year is probably the only reason I ever got on Twitter in the first place!).  She's a guarantee my Friday is going to have a feel good moment :)

So where does this leave me?  Well, for better or worse I'll be sticking around Twitter as it's part of the fun of the #OTSPSecretSister Project.  I'm trying to limit my (already fairly low) usage of Twitter - if I'm starting to feel middle school-ish I make myself get offline.  And I'm hoping the fact that I'm using it so much will continue to make it feel more comfortable for me and just erase my middle school person for good.

It's also definitely made me more sympathetic to (typically) older generations who struggle with newer technology. If I, at 25, have a hard time with Twitter - a technology I have been acquainted with for almost a year now, and whose technological foundation has been created during my teen years - it's no wonder that technology that is moving so fast would baffle a lot of people for whom it's been practically the blink of an eye.  (I also realized I have a selective memory - I didn't move onto Facebook until 3 years after it's founding - dinosaur years in technological time - and flatly refused to have a smart phone until it was the only cheap option by the time I hit grad school.  Which might not sound that bad until you realize that was only three years ago for me.  So clearly I have never been particularly good about embracing new technology.)  But before I go and say it's the older generations only who have trouble with new technology - I dropped the kids I nanny off at their grandmother's house a few weeks ago, and she was happily sharing photos with friends on Instagram (an app/site/I don't even technically know what it is).  So really it comes down to what you find important in your life - not your age.  So, like many others who struggle with technology, at the end of the day I'll have to figure out what I think makes life easier, and what is merely a distraction - and we'll see if Twitter makes the cut.

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